As I went to bed last night, I watched Terminator 2: Judgement Day. I had forgotten what an awesome movie that was. It has everything; good vs. evil, cool special effects, explosions, and a great story. Before I get into the point of this editorial, let me refresh your memories of how the movie starts.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is sent to the past through some lightening portal. He is butt naked, which isn't uncommon for him if you know anything about him. He walks into a biker bar, naked, and analyzes everyone's size to find someone who's clothes will fit him. The perfect match he finds is a big, scary biker with a beard and tats. He says to the biker, "I need your clothes, your boots, and your bike." Needless to say, the biker takes offense by this naked Austrian's demands. A fight ensues, Schwarzenegger beats everyone up, and gets the guys clothes, boots, and bike.
As I am watching this, I realized that just a few years ago more than half the people in California voted for this man to run their state. I remember all of the press it received. You remember "The Governator" and the campaign signs saying "Our Governor will beat your governor up!" I know it sounds more like a story out of Alabama or South Carolina, but this was in Cali. Then I started pondering the mind set of California voters when the were in the booth.
I recalled all of the Schwarzenegger movies and how they were so cool. Think about all the mega hit movies this guy played the lead: Commando, Predator, Running Man, Twins, Total Recall, Terminator 1 & 2, Kindergarten Cop, True Lies, and a bunch more. While all of the movies were massive hits, Arnold doesn't show that much range. He is always the good guy and he triumphs over evil by kicking ass.
When I am voting for a leader, this is the guy that I want. Unfortunately, this guy is a fictional character from action films. I guess Californians were worried that if the machines took over, their governor would know how to save them. And to be fair, Schwarzenegger wasn't that bad of a governor, especially compared to many "career politicians." But I've digressed.
As I thought deeper about "The Governator", I wondered how much the roles Arnold played affected the voter's perception of him as a man and a leader. I wonder if he would have won if he always played the role of a rapist in his movies. That may have proven for a more difficult campaign strategy. Imagine Anthony Hopkins running for public office in this country. I would love to run against Hannibal Lechter in a general election. My whole campaign would be clips from The Silence of the Lambs and the slogan "Vote Macris, He isn't a psychopathic cannibal." Game over.
So what does it mean when the people vote actors into public office? I think that there are several reasons for this. Here are few that I hypothesized:
1) General discontent with the "politics as usual guys." I understand this completely. I know the feeling of "Well, he can't do any worse than the a-hole that's been there. Let's give him shot."
2) People love celebrities. Especially in California. Remember they gave us Reagan too. He was an actor before politics. He even slapped women in some of his early films and he made it to US President. It shows how far women have come in the last 40 years, so I don't feel bad if I forget to hold a door open.
3) They are familiar and recognizable to the masses. Who are you going to vote for; the handsome, statuesque Arnold Schwarzenegger or some scrawny, balding guy whining about the economy? I don't even need to hear Arnold's plan because I already know what it is. He will hunt down the problem, kick its ass, and then sleep with the closest woman after his triumph. Period. He's like Bill Clinton without the fat chick and the floppy man boobs.
4) They are actors. Their job is to pretend that they are something that they are not. This is why I think that it is so dumb when people vote for actors to be in public office. The average person to so stupid. When discussing voting for actors they says brilliant things like, "I like him. He really acts like a Governor should." Really? He acted like a governor? I saw him act like a robot from the future sent back into time to kill Sara Connor. Man, this guy is a dynamo!
What is the right answer? I think that a combination of the above theories is probably the best explanation for actors winning public office.
But everyone loved Schwarzenegger. Do you remember, for a brief period, the Republicans discussed amending the US Constitution so that people born in other countries can run for US president? They did this because they wanted to run Schwarzenegger for president. This idea never picked up much steam, and it turned out to be good thing for the Republicans. If they had successfully changed that part of the Constitution, then they wouldn't have had any basis to attack Barack Obama for being born in another country: Hawaii.
Thanks for reading,